Mississippi Examines Online Gambling And Sports Betting OptionsApril 11, 2014 6:11 pm
As the state of Mississippi seeks ways to counteract falling revenues from its shrinking casino industry, The Mississippi House Gaming Committee (MGC) Chairman, Richard Bennett, has now given the go-ahead for a task force to produce an unbiased study on how online gambling may help boost its ailing state coffers.
Specifically, the eight-member group is tasked with taking a closer look at the regulated states of Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey, with a focus on their operating systems, geolocation technology and the ways in which they prevent underage and problem gamblers from gambling on their websites.
Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, has been appointed chairman of the task force, which is expected to recommend its non-legislative proposals by the end of 2014. Commenting on his responsibilities, Godfrey, explained: “Our most important role in this task force will be advisory, with data and analysis about internet gambling. We will not be making any recommendations regarding any new legislation or regulations.”
In addition to online gambling, the Mississippi Task Force will also examine sports betting options after legislators convinced MGC Chairman Richard Bennett to consider the potential benefits sports betting could bring to the state.
Similar to other casino states in the US, The Magnolia State has experienced declining revenues over the past few years and in 2013 gambling revenues fell 5.1% to $2.136 billion compared to the $2.251 billion collected the previous year. As a result the state, which employs 23,000 people in its casino industry, saw tax revenues drop to $263 million last year, with competition from nearby states accounting for much of the downward trend. Commenting on the threat to its casino market, Allen Godfrey, said:
“I think competition is really hurting everyone..There’s no telling how that will end up. But if they do expand it, we will feel the impact. Just like we feel the impact from the Poarch casinos in Alabama and the casino in West Memphis.”
Exploring possible ways in which to protect its gambling industry has thus become of chief importance for Mississippi, and after the task force produces its study, the Legislature will have a valuable document to examine should it consider expanding its gambling services in the future.